AirToob Lightning

Tags  →  relaxation

Norwegian “Slow TV” at its best...

Click any of my screenshots below to play.

A few days into the voyage we leave Molde, the “Town of Roses” with a jazz festival, on the way to Kristiansund

Arriving in Kristiansund, which turns out to be a fascinating place. Many of its inhabitants are descendents of Scotsmen. It was settled as early as 8000 BC, and is the home of an important opera festival.

If you would love to take some or all of this long trip, which starts in Bergen, takes in the Gerainger fjord and Ålesund among other places, and goes right around the top of Norway inside the Arctic circle, but (like us) may never be able to do it, then this one-hour video is the next best thing to being there.

The commentary is truly excellent, the scenery is awesome, and you can enjoy some great music along the way.

If you like this...

[The Hurtigruten Shipping line]
[Slow going: why 'slow TV' is catching on fast - Channel 4 News]
[More Slow TV]

From my great friend Sandy, who over the years has given me beautiful things like these

The Gardens Between: a unique puzzle game of childhood memories and friendship

This Australian production is a chill-out gem, almost worth having for its relaxing, meditative soundtrack alone.

A superior review to this one will be found here, or click any image for many links about the game.

Two best friends llive next door to each other. Sadly, they will be parted tomorrow, when one of them has to move away. They spend their last night together, wishing that they could somehow turn back time...

...and they discover that they can, at least in their imaginations. And that's what the game is about: controlling time.

The friends embark on a magical journey, visiting clusters of (usually three) islands, each island representing a level of the cluster's puzzle.

You can help them, but only by using three buttons: one advances time, one rewinds time, and the third causes something to happen. What you CAN'T do directly is control where the friends walk, which takes some getting used to!

The aim of each puzzle is simple: to reach the top of the island with a lit lantern. The lantern is lit by passing near a flower with a glowing white ball, and is extinguished by passing near a flower with a glowing black ball.

(Later in the game, you will encounter slabs of apparently solid mist. A lit lantern will dispel the mist, which is good if the mist is a barrier, but is bad if the mist forms a bridge that must be walked over!)

As time moves forwards or backwards, some other objects in the game move also, independently of the children. Flowers can open and close and the colour of their glowing ball can change.

Some of these objects are purple “buddy-boxes” in which a lantern can be placed or retrieved (lit or unlit) which follow their own trajectories around the island. If the trajectory of a buddy-box carrying a lantern passes near one of those glowing balls, then the lantern will be lit or extinguished accordingly.

What makes the game interesting is that the boy has special opportunities to stop time for the two friends, but allow time to go forwards or backwards for the other moving objects. Later in the game, when the islands and puzzles become more complicated, this can require some serious lateral thinking in order to make progress.

The path up the hill is inaccessible here - an example of where lateral thinking will be required!

As the game progresses, the islands become larger and more complicated. Some of the puzzles are very tricky indeed, especially when advancing or rewinding time very slowly at critical points allows things to happen that otherwise wouldn't.

My only disappointment with this wonderful little game is that it takes only a few hours to play, which makes it a somewhat expensive for what it is. But any bright children you know will have great fun playing it, too (not to mention other adults).

If you like this...

[FAR Lone Sails - an atmospheric vehicle adventure game]
[Dear Esther - a unique exploration of a Hebridean island]
[Other Places - videos by Andy Kelly exploring the tranquil beauty of game landscapes without violence or stress]
[Non-violent problem-solving adventure games (from my web site)]


One of the nicest places we visited this August in Scotland was the Crarae Garden, next to Loch Fyne. In fact, it was probably one of the nicest National Trust properties we have visited, whether in Scotland or England.

Much bigger and more varied than its name suggests, it offers everything from a gentle walk by a stream to high level "Himalayan" walks for more than an hour through a wonderful variety of trees and plants.

It is also a very peaceful place. I took this photograph of the stream coming down through the gorge, and also recorded its soothing sound, which was the only thing we could hear. I turned the recording into a 10-minute MP3 file which you can play or download if you click the photo. I play it looped on my phone, and find it great for relaxing, sleeping or just turning off the world. Maybe you will too.

If the world is stressing you out, try this one (at low volume). Written by sound therapists and the English musical trio Marconi Union, it was scientifically measured to reduce the body's responses to anxiety by 65% when played through headphones.

The Japanese art of “forest bathing” comes to Britain... and anyone who likes Miyazaki's classic animation My Neighbour Totoro will have no trouble in relating to it.

The author of this article tried it out in Thorpe Forest, near Thetford in Norfolk, a place that I can recommend from personal experience!

1 Hour Long Sunrise at Langstiņi Lake, Garkalnes novads, Latvia (map link)

If you're feeling stressed, or even if you're not, why not stop for a while and watch this nice example of Slow TV (full screen on the TV in your living room, if you can)?

“Life is an overwhelming whirlwind of stress, responsibility, existential crises, and utility bills. So it’s a good thing we have video games, which are the equivalent of burying your head in the sand and forgetting about what a gruelling, thankless chore simply existing can be.

“When I’m feeling the burden of sentience, these are the games I turn to. They’re all relaxing in their own special way, and the perfect way to unwind after a hard day of doing whatever it is you do to pay the rent.

“So light some scented candles, put on a Brian Eno CD, and slip into a warm bubble bath of pure tranquility. But not too far, ‘cause you might fall asleep and drown, and you’ve got work tomorrow.”

Andy Kelly (aka Ultrabrilliant) in PC Gamer

Andy is probably the finest journalist writing on video games. I have gratefully borrowed his words in my selections below from his article, and added some links. Click any image to see the full article with all 10 of Andy's suggestions.

Space Engine

“This one’s tricky. Flying around Space Engine’s beautiful 1:1 scale recreation of the universe can be remarkably humbling and soothing, but you run the risk of suddenly realising just how small and insignificant you are and having a mild existential breakdown. For the best experience, disable the in-game music and listen to the sci-fi-tinged ambience of ‘Tomorrow's Harvest’ by Boards of Canada.”

Take On Mars

“This slow-paced simulator sees you exploring the surface of the red planet with a variety of rovers and landers. The missions don’t get any more exciting than ‘probe some soil’, but the feeling of being alone on a distant, lonely world is palpable. The howl of the Martian wind as you trundle through the dust creates an evocative atmosphere, and the sedate pace of the rovers makes for a strangely hypnotic experience.”

The perfect companion to reading The Martian by Andy Weir (see my previous post below).

Dear Esther

“The bleak Hebridean island that this short, story-led game takes place on is one of my favourite virtual places to hike through. It evokes the same lonely feeling as Take On Mars, but with a more earthly setting. The world and sound design are hauntingly atmospheric, and the understated music and narration give it a serene, dreamlike feel. Can we have more games set on remote Scottish islands, please?”

... and a couple of the rest (click any image above to see the full set):


“This surrealist exploration game marries sound and visuals in a really captivating way. As you wander around a procedurally-generated island, constructed from simple, abstract shapes, the dreamy music reacts to your actions. Then the seasons begin to change, transforming the landscape around you, and your worries slip away. It only takes an hour to finish Proteus, but the world layout is different every time.”

Sherlock Holmes: Crimes and Punishments

“This detective adventure is like watching an episode of Poirot or Morse or something. It has that sedate British crime drama vibe about it, and even though most of the cases are about grisly murders, the gorgeous, authentic environments are a pleasure to explore. It’s like being transported to Victorian England. The pace is slow and measured, and none of the puzzles are too taxing. The perfect game for a lazy Sunday.”

If you like this...

[Other Places - videos by Andy Kelly exploring the tranquil beauty of game landscapes without violence or stress]
[Slow TV from Norway]

A collection of soothing music videos, arranged as a playlist, perfect for insomniacs... thanks, Little Lu Lu!

(Click the image to play)

This wonderful happy song (click the lyrics to listen) reminded me...

Life sometimes seem just too frenetic, with no time to stop and watch the world go by.

The Norwegians, recognizing this, have pioneered a new kind of entertainment with Slow TV. You can spend hours on a train just looking at the scenery, or enjoy a slow cruise up the Norwegian fjords, or stare dreamily into a log fire (if you're not lucky enough to have one of your own), or watch salmon swimming upstream...

It sounds unlikely as a crowd-pleaser? Well, an early experiment drew 1.25 million viewers in Norway, about a fifth of the population, and the idea is certainly taking off as you can see here (literally, in the case of British Airways, who are introducing an example of Slow TV on their long haul flights).

I peek into the future and sadly see people still living in urban sprawls, but with low-cost giant HD screens showing a better world outside...

If you like this...

[A complete virtual trip (can be sampled!) on the Trans Siberian Railway]
[Caretake this moment...]
[Go placidly amid the noise and haste...]
[Creating a field of flowers]
[Things to enjoy in life (including this one)]

Beautiful rain sounds, music and images found on Aline's always-lovely pages


Here we are
Finally together
Holding close
Never release this feeling
This moment
My dream is now
Loving you

'Cause your beautiful
Something in your eyes
Tells me I have found
Love that never dies
I don't have to dream
Reality is beautiful in you...
Never felt more true

There you are
Finally the answer
Take my hand
Never release
The sweetness
The magic
The happiness
I found in you

'Cause you're beautiful
Something in your eyes
Tells me I have found
Love that never dies
I don't have to dream
Reality is beautiful in you...
Never felt more true

Here we are...

'Cause you're beautiful
Something in your eyes
Tells me I have found
Love that never dies
I don't have to dream
Reality is beautiful in you...
Never felt more true...


A beautiful song by Late Night Alumni, and a beautiful video to go with it.

A delightful short animation by gvozdariki, very soothing, sent to me by my friend mikimile - thanks, Miki!

Click the image to play - opens in a separate window.